Contrary to a very popular misconception, it was not the Holocaust but Aktion T4 that designed, developed and implemented a radically new concept of mass murder – the industrial murder.
For the first time in human history, the planners of this horrendous crime not only made the decision to eliminate the whole social group (it happened 25 years or so in Turkey) but engineered, built and used an very much industrial system for annihilating the “undesirable” demographic group.
Contrary to another very popular misconception, the Holocaust was but a “version 2.0” of Aktion T4, albeit on a far grander scale – and thus with a far bigger number of victims.
Why did the perpetrators of Aktion T4 choose the industrial (i.e. engineering) approach to their extermination program? My guess is that it is because of the specific feature of German mentality and character – to find the most efficient solution (and process, if required) to the task at hand. In other words, to impose the most effective and efficient (“doing the right thing in the right way”) Ordnung on this task.
Even if this task happens to be mass murder. The latter is true, of course, only if the “organizational engineer” in question deeply and sincerely believes that he (it was always a “he”) is doing the right thing.
Which was exactly the case with the architects, engineers and managers of Aktion T4 (and subsequently of the Holocaust – they were often the same individuals). They deeply and sincerely believed that Germany was already fighting an existential war (this was correct) and to win this existential war, they had to physically exterminate the whole social group – mentally and/or physically sick, deformed or handicapped (the hopelessly unproductive individuals).
The latter belief was dead wrong; hence, Aktion T4 was not only a monstrous crime, but also a colossal blunder. Not a “mother of all Nazi blunders”, of course (that was the Night of the Long Knives), but still a gigantic blunder.
The biggest mystery (and there were lots of them in the Third Reich) of any mass murder or any other major crime committed by the Nazis is Hitler’s role in the crime in question.
Der Führer was highly skilled in leaving no paper trail whatsoever and his closest partners in crime either died (Himmler, Heydrich, Globocnik, Buhler) before the Allies could bring them to justice (although about the death of the SS-Reichsfuhrer I am not so sure) or went missing (Gestapo Müller).
Consequently while the medium- and low-level decisions, actions and operations are relatively well-known, what really happened at the very top in Aktion T4 (and other Nazi criminal projects) is still a mystery.
Hence reconstructing the comprehensive implementation system for the Nazi involuntary euthanasia program can be only approximate and rely far more on logic and common sense than on irrefutable facts and hard evidence (because there simply isn’t any).
My reconstruction of the Aktion T4 implementation system is presented in Figure X. It demonstrates (IMHO, beyond the reasonable doubt, given the totality of knowledge about the Third Reich) that the real CEO of the Aktion T4 project was Adolf Hitler himself. Who is, therefore, legally guilty of mass murder as the one who gave orders (albeit undoubtedly only oral ones – with one exception).
Most likely, Adolf Hitler not only ordered head of Hitler’s Chancellery Philipp Bouhler and his “escort physician” Dr. Karl Brandt to euthanize mental and physical patients considered hopelessly incurable.
But personally ordered SS-Reichsführer Adolf Hitler to have SS-Einsatzgruppen add to the list of “undesirables” to be exterminated a wholly new category – mental patients (in other words, empty mental hospitals in Poland, Bohemia and Moravia and subsequently in the Soviet Union).
Although Himmler was known to expand his authority to commit mass murders, this was something he had to get authorization from Adolf Hitler as nominally mentally sick were far outside the responsibilities of the SS.
It is also very likely that Hitler personally ordered the Gauleiters of German provinces situated near former Polish border to empty their mental asylums by shipping their patients/inmates to Poland to be shot or gassed by the SS-Einsatzgruppen.
The Gauleiters, obviously, had to request support of the SS for making these shipments as both police and regional SS units (the only ones that could do the job) were under control of SS-Reichsfuhrer, not Gauleiters.
Adolf Hitler also ordered Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick to issue directives that compelled doctors and managers of adult and children’s mental hospitals, asylums and other institutions to report names of patients/inmates who suffer from certain conditions to the Aktion T4 experts.
Thus the ultimate authority for the euthanasia program was not Hauptamt II (Main Office II) of the KdF (Hitler’s Chancellery), but Adolf Hitler himself. Hauptamt II (i.e. its head Viktor Brack) was, indeed the decision-making agency for all aspects of the Aktion T4 except decisions and actions by the Gauleiters inside Germany and all decisions and actions on the occupied territories.
The “Reich Committee for the Scientific Registering of Serious Hereditary and Congenital Illnesses” was nothing more than a front organization, a mere post box established specifically to conceal the highly uncomfortable fact for the Führer that his personal Chancellery was running a mass murder operation – and thus committing an enormous crime against humanity.
Although Bouhler was titular head of the whole operation, in fact he had little to with it unless his authority was needed in dealing with other government agencies. Dr. Brandt dealt only with the medical aspects of the operation, and continued to run his medical practice.
Which at the end did not help either of them – Philipp Bouhler was forced to commit suicide to escape the guaranteed hangman’s noose and Karl Brandt was executed for his role in Aktion T4.